The generative zip code


What a magnificent thing is the zip code. But it doesn’t parse quite as finely as we would like. There isn’t a distinct zip code for each building or residence. But surely, this should be easy enough to do.

This is the way the post office describes zip codes:
The nine digits of a ZIP+4 code (e.g., 12345-6789) may be grouped as follows: [123] [45] – [67] [89 ]

• [123] : Sectional Center or Large City
• [45] : Post Office™ facility or Delivery Area
• – : The required “dash” or “hyphen” separates the first five digits from the last four digits; the +4
• [67] : Sector or Several Blocks
• [89] : Segment or One Side of a Street

Another 3 digits and we would have a discrete number for each residence. We would have digitized the entire country.

The good thing about a 12 digit zip code is that we would release the worded address to perfect acts of imagination. Once I have your 12 digit zip code, I can call you anything.

We can be fanciful:

Yabu Pushelberg
Easy street
Fat City
Sofa World

Or we can imply that ordinary places are portals to extraordinary places. (This is a kind of Time and Again approach.)

Perpiche DeMarco
The Count of Monte Cristo
18th century (c. 1770?)
Stamford, CT

When I send you an envelope addressed to Yabu Pushelberg, I have cast a new identity upon you. You will do with it what you want. I would hope at the very least that you would introduce yourself as “Yabu” at least once in the course of the day. Or perhaps, while sitting in one of those interminable committee meetings, say to yourself, “how would a man who lives in Sofa World handle this?”

Brands are identity propositions. Mostly, they are eager to get our identities exactly right. The brand wants to help construct us exactly as we think we are or want to be. How much more interesting the world would be if brands cultivated the spirit of the Mardi Gras. What I want from the Coca-Cola Company is a fleeting identity, one that ends, Count of Monte Cristo, only for the time it takes me to empty the can. Indeed, that identity becomes part of the value-add of the brand. Each can of Coke could come with a different identity. My portfolio of selves is a little richer or more capable of “churn.”

More on this theme tomorrow.

8 thoughts on “The generative zip code

  1. Grant

    Dabba Doo:

    I am sure it looks this way, but the challenge here is straight forward. The artistic, intellectual and avant garde communities like to argument that industrial system and the marketplace flatten and diminish the imaginative possibilities available to us. Commerce “dumbs us down.” But here, in the lowly zip code, when industrial system actually opens up imaginative possibility…endlessly. Thanks for the question that helps me clarify my motives.

    Thanks, Grant

  2. cmb

    I’m reminded of that Charlie Brown cartoon where the child is named a number (his father had been protesting something, possibly the implementation of zip codes?).

    A friend of mine took me on a tour of Austin and explained that it was so big, the dorms had their own zip codes. I wasn’t too impressed, as in Canada most apartment/office buildings have their own postal codes; some office towers even have more than one.

  3. Anonymous

    Yo grant dawg. Some of my relatives have numbers tatooed on their arms from nazi germany. Maybe we should look at what is pratically needed in terms of numbering and just go with that. Actually, if you think about it all americans have a number…whether it be passport or credit card.

  4. Simply Zip Codes

    I agree that this would be a great concept, but the upkeep of this type of new system would be annoying. The advantage of it would be that you wouldn’t even need the street address to send snail mail. You just put a name and a number (like a phone number) and there you have it.

    One thing to take into account also would be residence type. For instance, an office building may have 200 mailing addresses while a home would have 1 and a duplex has 2.

    As for digitalizing the whole country, the USPS has already done that, and you can purchase every US address that exists. Take a look…

    And look here for zip code searches.

  5. sic code

    As for digitalizing the whole country, the USPS has already done that, and you can purchase every US address that exists. Take a look…

    And look here for zip code searches.



    Subject: Our Wonderful Post Office!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    How ironic is this??!! They don’t even believe in Christ and they’re getting their own Christmas stamp, but don’t dream of posting the ten commandments on federal property?

    USPS New Stamp

    This one is impossible to believe. Scroll down for the text.
    If there is only one thing you forward today…..let it be this!

    REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of PanAm
    Flight 103!

    REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the World
    Trade Center in 1993!

    REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the Marine
    barracks in Lebanon!

    REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the military
    barracks in Saudi Arabia!

    REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the American
    Embassies in Africa!

    REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the USS COLE!

    REMEMBER the MUSLIM attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11/2001!

    REMEMBER all the AMERICAN lives that were
    lost in those vicious MUSLIM attacks!

    Now the United States Postal Service REMEMBERS and HONORS the
    EID MUSLIM holiday season with a commemorative first class
    holiday postage stamp.

    REMEMBER to adamantly and vocally BOYCOTT this stamp
    when purchasing your stamps at the post office.
    To use this stamp would be a slap in the face to all those
    AMERICANS who died at the hands of those whom this stamp honors.

    REMEMBER to pass this along to every patriotic AMERICAN you know

  7. US zip code maps

    I would recommend for any US zip code map.
    You can use this to find any US zip code maps. You can search by (City, State OR Zip). they have all the maps showing zip codes and major mile streets in all of the united states. The service is free. Search for five Digit Zip Code and find the Maps for all 50 states. A Free ZIP Code Finder which can do wonders for you. Zip codes

Comments are closed.